Nigeria Weekly News Highlights #13
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Nigeria Weekly News Highlights

April 1, 2000

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Friday, March 31 , 2000

Party chiefs flay Nzeribe over comment on Clinton's visit

By Chukwudi Abiandu, Political Correspondent

SENATOR Arthur Nzeribe, representing Orlu Senatorial Zone of Imo State, has been criticised for his statement attacking the proposal by the Federal Government to spend about N1 billion on the planned visit of President Bill Clinton of the United States.

Nzeribe had said that he would personally write to Clinton on the issue, because he thought it was too much to spend that amount on his visit.

But opposition came on Wednesday against his position from two politicians in Lagos, Chief Onyeka Okorafor, a former senator and Chief Olutayo Adenekan, a chieftain of Alliance for Democracy (AD).

Condemning Nzeribe's criticisms, Okorafor said his utterances in recent times had been terrible and unbecoming of a legislator of his status.

"It is in the interest of Nigeria and the black people that President Clinton plans to visit Nigeria," Okorafor said.

He continued: "The expenditure that would be involved in hosting him is a nickel compared to what Nigeria stands to gain. Even to raise issues about the expenditure involved is only trying to gain cheap popularity.

"One should have expected that Nzeribe would concern himself with proposing bills that would help in poverty eradication. Nigeria is talking about debt cancellation, we are talking about new foreign investment, we are also talking about rehabilitation of existing infrastructure. There is no way that Clinton's visit cannot touch on any of these," he declared.

According to Okorafor, Nzeribe's pronouncement that he was going to call out people to protest was nothing but an empty boast, as no one would take him seriously.

"One would have expected, assuming Nzeribe has that type of clout, that he could have called out people to demonstrate against Sharia. When the Igbo and other Nigerians were slaughtered in the North, he had no courage to say anything to defend his people," the politician said.

Similarly, Adenekan urged Nzeribe to guard his comments, noting that he has done more harm than good to the body politic of Nigeria.

"There is no country in the world that needs Clinton's visit than Nigeria. If Nzeribe feels the money is too much, he should tell Nigerians which is more profitable - a visit to Nigeria by Clinton or the furniture allowance collected by Nzeribe and his colleagues in the National Assembly," Adenekan said.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Friday, March 31 , 2000

Media summit holds in Abuja

JOURNALISTS from 16 West African countries will converge in Abuja, Nigeria, for a two-day conference on Journalists' Ethics and Self-Regulation from April 3 to 4, 2000.

Information Minister, Chief Dapo Sarumi, is expected to present a keynote address and open the conference, while remarks will also be made by the representatives of the European Union delegation in Nigeria, the International Federation of Journalists and West African Journalists Association - organisers of the conference as well as the Nigeria Union of Journalists. The opening ceremony takes place at the Rockview Hotel, Abuja.

A statement by Bettina Peters, IFJ Deputy Secretary-General, said: "The conference will focus on the challenges of professional and ethical journalism and the role journalists' organizations must play to set and uphold ethical standards."

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Friday, March 31 , 2000

Nigeria sues foreign banks over Abacha loot

From John-Abba Ogbodo, Abuja

NIGERIA'S loot recovery crusade has taken a more aggressive dimension as the country began litigation against foreign banks in which the monies are allegedly stashed.

Finance Minister of State, Jubril Martins-Kuye, disclosed the new strategy yesterday while giving a breakdown of the economy's performance during the fourth quarter of last year.

The minister also revealed that the amount so far recovered from the Abacha family had been shared out for various priority projects.

Martins-Kuye who stressed that litigations had been initiated, however, declined to mention the number and the countries involved.

Pointing out that recovering such monies, especially from foreign agencies, would not be easy, he stressed, however, that the Federal Government would do all in its power to recover the monies.

According to him: "Recovering such monies is not easy. It involves complicated legal processes because you have to prove that the monies are there and in what form but I assure you that the present administration is more than determined to bring the monies back to this country and use it in the interest of our people," he said.

He explained that money so far recovered had been shared among different priority areas.

The focus now, he stressed, was on how to recover the money stashed away in foreign banks.

"Our focus now is on how to recover the money stashed away in foreign banks and this we are already doing."

On the weakness of the nation's currency, he remarked that the only way to strengthen it was to strengthen the economy.

According to the minister, federal revenue collection in the fourth quarter of last year rose to N335.7 billion as against N265.5 billion realised in the third quarter, representing an increase of N70 billion.

Details of sectorial collection, he said, showed that revenue accruing from Customs import and excise duties and Value Added Tax (VAT) decreased by N6.17 billion and N1.97 billion.

Martins-Kuye attributed the increase in the overall revenue profile to the increase in oil prices.

According to the details released by the minister, government's monthly earnings in the fourth quarter averaged at N111.88 billion compared with the preceding quarters monthly average of N88.55 billion, representing an average increase of N23.33 billion or 26 per cent.

Oil revenue, the minister also stated, accounted for N283.83 billion while N51.82 billion came from other sources. Oil revenue increased by N79.25 billion or 39 per cent from N204.58 billion in the third quarter to N283.83 billion in the fourth quarter. Non-oil revenue, according to the minister declined by N9.25 billion in the period. Revenue from Customs duty and fees amounted to N19.94 billion as against N25.91 billion in the third quarter.

VAT, the detail further showed, accounted for N11.66 billion in the period compared to N13.54 billion in the third quarter.

Company Income Tax (CIT) revenue amounted to N9.94 billion in the fourth quarter as against N13.16 billion in the third quarter representing a decrease of N3.22 billion or 24.5 per cent.

He attributed the increase in the overall revenue collection to the "substantial increase in revenue from crude oil and liquid gas sales and royalties due to favourable developments in the international market" while he blamed the decrease in non-oil revenue, VAT and CIT on the lull in the economy and lower industrial capacity utilisation.

Total foreign inflow for the period stood at US3,563.5 million as against US2,669.6 million showing an increase of US893.9 million. Foreign exchange outflow amounted to US3,131.6 million as against US2,046.5 million showing an increase of US1,085.1 million or 53.0 per cent.

The net inflow for the period was US431.9 million while the average monthly inflow and outflow for the period stood at US1,187.8 million.

The country's foreign reserve as at the end of the period stood at US4.8 billion after refunding the first line charges. The external debt profile, according to the minister's report, stood at US28.04 billion.

Nigeria's debt service arrears, including penalties, amounted to US18.50 billion out of which US18.46 billion was due to the Paris Club.

The minister also said that Nigeria's foreign debts stood at $28.04 billion at the end of December, last year.

Almost three-quarters of the debt - some $20.51 billion was owed to the Paris Club of creditor countries, he said.

Nigeria's debt stock has been a matter of much debate in recent years, with the country and international financial institutions in disagreement over the level of debts.

Kuye said the figure of $28.04 billion had been reached in agreement with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The minister said Nigeria was keen to repay its debts if the payments could be rescheduled.

"Nigeria is resolutely determined to work within the framework of the existing Paris Club rules provided that the eventual debt service requirement could be set at an affordable level with favourably negotiated rescheduling terms."

In the last quarter of 1999, available foreign reserves, after all first line charges were funded rose from $4.67 billion to $4.84 billion, he said.

The Central Bank earlier this month put the foreign reserves at the end of 1999 at $5.79 billion up from $5.43 billion at the end of the third quarter.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

FG sues Abacha's family over loot

By Emma Ujah & Yinka Olusanya , Abuja

THE Federal Government has sued the Abacha family in a bid to recover public funds believed to have been looted by the late Gen. Sani Abacha and members of his family, Minister of State for Finance, Alhaji Jubril Martins-Kuye said yesterday.

"We have filed some suits in some countries abroad," he told reporters in Abuja.

Details of the cases were not offered although he admitted that government was having difficulties over the loot in Britain and Switzerland.

He also acknowledged that the process was complicated.

He said: "We are keeping an eagle eye on other accounts. The process is complicated. In the course of trying to get this money, you might have to go to court and make a deposition to prove your claims."

He also said the Federal Government had already spent funds so far recovered.

"All funds received, I believe, adequate information has been provided by the government, they have been shared out, he said. President Obasanjo said recently that the late Abacha stole about $4 billion.

Alhaji Martins-Kuye asked Nigerians to join hands with government in its efforts to revamp the economy.

Answering a question on the Naira’s continued depreciation, the minister stated that economic growth was the only way to achieve a strong Naira.

His Words: "The Naira is being weakened because of the pressure that is exerted on the foreign exchange.

"The Naira can only get strong when you are able to strengthen your production and service base.

"We have plants and industries scattered here and there across the country which are not producing.

"If these plants come alive and we can buy almost every raw material and finished product at home, then we would have less problem with foreign exchange demand.

"A situation where whatever money gets into the system people use it to scramble for foreign exchange, then you can’t expect any thing better.

"This is elementary economics. We all know that when many buyers are chasing few sellers, you know what the outcome would be."

On the foreign debt portfolio of the nation, the minister stated that the $28.04 remained the official figure.

According to him, the provisions so far made for it were just for serving its interests.

Senator Martins-Kuye, however, expressed optimism that the efforts of the President to enlist the support and debt relief from the creditors would yield positive results.

He also announced that N70 billion was shared by the three tiers of government this month.

He said: "Of the total sum of N112.233 billion that accrued into the Federation Account, the sum of N70 billion was shared among the three tiers of government and special funds."

While N8.519 billion was transferred to the Federation Reserve Account, N140 million was set aside for refunds, N33.574 billion reserved for the payment of JVC, NNPC priority projects and external debt service for the month of February, 2000.

The breakdowns further indicated that the sum of N33.95 billion was allocated to the Federal Government, N18.106 billion to the states including FCT, N14 billion to local government councils and N3.944 billion to special funds.

Similarly, N4.806 billion was disbursed as VAT revenue to the three tiers of government. Of this amount, the Federal Government received N721 million, states, N2.403 billion and local government councils, N1.682 billion.

Vanguard Transmitted Friday, 31   March, 2000 

Friday, March 31 , 2000

No cure for AIDS yet, say NMA, UN chief

From Segun Ayeoyenikan, (Abuja) and Ben Ukwuoma (Lagos)

CLAIMS by individuals and groups of a cure of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) should be ignored as there has not been any known one for now, the executive director of UN AIDS control, Dr. Peter Piot, has said.

Piot, speaking in Abuja yesterday, dismissed by pronouncements individuals, spiritualists and traditional leaders who claimed to have found cure for the HIV/AIDS without subjecting their discoveries to proper scientific tests.

His views were amplified by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) which said that "HIV/AIDS claims on cure should be made with are." Some individuals such as Dr. Joseph Abalaka and Senior Pastor Temitope Joshua of the Synagugue, Church of All Nations have said that they cure AIDS with herbs and by God's power respectively.

Nigeria Medical Association (MMA) believes that HIV/AIDS claims on cure should be made with care."

This was how the NMA yesterday reacted to claims by certain Nigerian medical practitioners that they had found a cure for the scourge.

But NMA President George Okpagu warned against "these dubious claims," especially against the backdrop of reports from persons who had been duped by individuals laying claim to having found a cure for HIV/AIDS, adding that Nigerians should be wary of them as they were yet to be substantiated.

He said: "The association insists that it is very unethical for anybody to lay claims for a cure without adhering to the due process of scientific methodology.

These claims must be published in a reputable scientific journal which, he pointed out, would also protect the intellectual property rights of the individual.

Our position is that until there is such documentation with confirmation by a standard research institute, such claims remain null and void".

Okpagu said the association had not been contacted by any of the persons who lay claim to the cure of AIDS. "We only read them on the pages of newspapers," he remarked.

He pointed out, however, that one Dr. Felix Amanya of Hebron Medical Centre, Festac Town, Lagos, officially contacted the body last year.

"We co-operated with him, until he breached the contract with us by refusing to subject his patients to tests, using our test kits. No other person had contacted us," Okpagu said.

He stated that NMA was not going to frustrate anybody, especially since cure for AIDS was something everybody was interested in, "but it should not be done on the pages of newspapers."

Okpagu explained that so far, no genuine cure for the disease had been found as claimed, adding that what the public had been made to believe was a cure amounted only to a "reduction of the viral load which the drugs available in the markets for the treatment does."

The UN head of campaigns against AIDS who was in Nigeria for the first time also declared at a joint press conference with the Federal Ministry of Health that the world apex body was ready to support every initiative to find a possible cure for the HIV/AIDs scourge no matter which country it was coming from. "It is my desire and hope for anybody to find a cure for the dreaded disease during my tenure as Executive Director of UNAIDS," he said.

He urged Nigerians to guard against the scourge saying: the only feasible option is the "social vaccine."

He recommended a 100 per cent use of condom and the adoption of other precautionary measures that could prevent blood-to-blood contact with an HIV/AIDS infected person.

On whether the UN would subsidize the costs of anti-vetroviral drugs used in extending the life span of an HIV/AIDs victims especially the poor, Piot described it "impossible considering the huge financial commitment required to meet that need."

Friday, March 31 , 2000

Obasanjo ties investment to peace


bulletSays poverty is evil

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo underscored yesterday the inseparable link between foreign investment and peace, at the start of a visit to Kebbi State where Governor Muhammed Adamu Aliero described him as Nigeria's "beacon of hope."

The President who spoke in Birnin-Kebbi at a civic reception in his honour pointed out that neither Nigerians nor foreigners would be willing to be involved in massive investment in the economy "as long as people are afraid of the safety of their lives and property and the security of their investment."

He also noted that government was "a poor and inadequate generator of employment" and that the private sector should be the main creator of jobs.

"But the private sector cannot do so unless there is massive investment by Nigerians and non-Nigerians," he remarked.

Reiterating his administration's determination to implement all aspects of the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAD), President Obasanjo said it was a matter of great concern that many university graduates turned up during the recent registration of applicants for the N3,500 jobs meant for the unskilled.

This, he said, showed the level of unemployment, pledging that the graduate employment aspect of the programme would come up soon, followed by the skills acquisition scheme.

The President described poverty as evil as "it is one of the things that make people behave like animals, destroying lives and property and not regarding their neighbours as brothers."

According to him, "those who can boast of what to eat tomorrow or even next week can hardly appreciate the level of poverty in our society where some cannot say what they will eat today."

He said it was the joint responsibility of all the three tiers of government to provide social amenities such as roads, water and electricity to improve the people's lot.

He announced plans by the Federal government to bear a certain percentage of the cost of potable water provided in urban areas by state governments and not less than 50 per cent of the cost of such projects in rural areas.

President Obasanjo said that the government was concerned about the total development of Nigerians through the provision of all they need to improve the quality of their lives.

He said that when fully operational, the Universal Basic Education Scheme would also generate employment as thousands of teachers would be required.

Earlier, Governor Aliero described Obasanjo's trip as historic because it was the first time a Nigerian Head of State was visiting the state since it was created in 1991.

He said that the President was the "beacon of hope, the defender of the weak, the pillar of our unity, the rallying point of our diversity and the champion of our cause," adding that his able leadership would see Nigeria through the turbulence usually associated with young democracies."

Aliero said he met the state in a desperate situation when he assumed office 10 months ago because its sections lacked adequate attention.

He said his administration, despite fiscal constraints, had recorded modest achievements but appealed for Abuja's intervention in education as the state has no federal tertiary institution.

He said the siting of one of the proposed universities of agriculture in Kebbi would be appropriate as the fertile land would be a great benefit to such an institution.

The governor also solicited for assistance in the area of agriculture and provision of infrastructure.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Wednesday, March 29 , 2000

Lagos budgets N400m for flood control

By Lekan Sanni, Staff Reporter

ABOUT N400 million has been budgeted by the Lagos State Government to tackle flooding in about 19 areas identified as prone to the menace in the metropolis.

Also, two different groups, the Drain Ducks and the Attack Squad, have been created by the state government to reduce flooding in the state.

The government's anti-flooding measure will kick off on April 1 when three foreign and four local contractors are expected to begin work in the 19 areas, according to the Information Commissioner, Mr. Dele Alake.

Alake, who spoke at a press briefing in Lagos yesterday, listed the contractors involved as Julius Berger, DTV, Strabag, all foreign and JBB, Efoba, Naman and Baracell.

The areas where work is expected to begin are the James George/ Dolphin/ McGregor channel, which is to deflood James George, Dolphin Estate and the SSS estate, all in Ikoyi at a cost of N100 million, the Ikoyi Drainage Network Phase I to cost N30 million, the Ajisebiarameka channel in Alimosho area which will cost N15 million in the first place.

The particular project, according to Alake, is in seven phases and altogether, will cost N193 million. According to him, the place is so big and the problem of the area so critical as it has led to loss of lives in the past, adding, however, that the government had no money to tackle the problem at once.

Others are the Beckley Estate Collector drain near Abule-Egba (N18 million), the construction of drains and culverts on Western Avenue at Ojuelegba to deflood Ojuelegba and environs (N22 million), the construction of Fola Agoro Collector drain, Abule Ijesha (N12 million) and Elere channelisation scheme to deflood Oniwaya (N13 million). The project is in the third phase and is expected to deflood about 65 per cent of the entire Agege.

There is also the Oyingbo Drainage channelisation project to deflood Oyingbo market and Ebute Metta (N12 million), Ilasan culvert and drain on the Lagos-Epe Expressway (N6.5 million), Adealu Collector Drain, an extension of the Elere channelisation scheme (N9.3 million), Park Lane/ Crowther/ Iduganran Collector drain, Apapa (N4 million), Makanjuola project, (N10 million), Adetola Aguda Collector drain, made up of two projects, Aguda/Ikate and Adetola Aguda (N6 million) abandoned Ketu/Ojota dredging, Allen Avenue/ Toyin Street/ Alade market area and the N2.04 million Ogunye channelisation at Ogudu.

The commissioner said that the projects are to complement what is being done presently in many parts of the Lagos metropolis. For instance, he said that drainage clearing is going on in Victoria Island, Oworonsoki, Surulere near stadium and Odunlami Street, through the Direct Labour Agency of the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning.

According to him, contractors are to be paid 50 per cent mobilisation and are expected to start work by April 1.

On why the project was delayed, Alake said that there is usually little rainfall in April, adding that by June and July when the downpour is heavy, sufficient job would have been done to prevent any major disaster.

He said the government would not adopt the fire brigade approach of the past in deflooding the tate.

Two groups, the Drain Ducks and the Attach Squad have, therefore, been created for the purpose of cleaning drains and preventing flooding in the Lagos metropolis.

The Drain Ducks, he said, will be responsible for clearing drains all year round in the state. For the purpose, the state has been divided into zones.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Environment and Physical Planning, Mr. Aderemi Elegbede, an engineer, said that about 2,500 personnel would be recruited for the purpose while N75 million had been set aside for the take-off of the scheme.

Those to be employed would work all year round and ensure that blocked drains are cleared.

The Attack Squad, on the other hand, would work during emergencies. Elegbede said that the squad will compose the 50 people who are currently in the Direct Labour Agency of the ministry, in conjunction with engineers in the Ministry of Works.

Alake also announced that a jet machine for deflooding blocked drains and a dredger ordered last year by the state government are now on their way to the country.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

CBN gets 48-hour ultimatum over N8b cocoa money

By Rotimi Ajayi, Abuja

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has issued officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 48 hours to find the $80 million or N8 billion share of the Nigerian cocoa farmers from the international cocoa buffer.

He also directed the Ministry of Commerce to forward to him immediately details of another $45 million (N4.5 billion) which the ministry is allegedly keeping for the farmers, according to sources close to a meeting at State House between President Olusegun and a delegation of the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria.

It was learnt that the ministry had already acknowledged the existence of the fund in its purse. Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting with the president, the association’s president, Dr. Bode Olowoporoku, said the $45 million was collected by the defunct Cocoa Board.

He said: "What we really told the Head of State was that we are not asking him (the president) to dip his hand into his pocket. Rather, we gave him the history of cocoa money that has been lying in the Ministry of Commerce.

"At our last count, that money was about $45 million. We are finding where it is now and how much of it is left.

"The other one was $80 million in the CBN. They are looking for that now to find out whether it is still there and these are the monies we are asking for.."


Wednesday, March 29 , 2000

Govt signs investment pact with Germany

From Ben Iheanacho, John-Abba Ogbodo, Tony Eluemunor, Adamu Abuh and Arthur Obayuwana, (Abuja)

GOVERNMENT yesterday added fresh impetus to its investment drive, signing an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) with Germany.

With the development, investors from both countries are expected to consolidate trade relations, but Nigeria may gain more as government has initiated economic blueprint that is investment-friendly.

Industries Minister Iyorchia Ayu signed on behalf of the government while Armin Hiller, the German Ambassador to Nigeria signed for his country.

Negotiations for the IPPA came on the heels of President Olusegun Obasanjo's visit to the country last year.

Beside Ayu, Nigeria's trade and investment experts also participated in the preliminary talks between December 9 and 16 in Germany.

The German team for the bilateral investment agreement was led by the Minister of Technology and Economy.

Also, the National Assembly has called on the German government to assist in nurturing democracy in Nigeria by initiating efforts to help in its debt forgiveness drive.

Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Udo Udoma, made the appeal yesterday when he received a delegation of German parliamentarians in Abuja.

The Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr Justice Paul Nwokedi, has explained why the teaching of human rights issues was yet to take-off in police colleges in the country.

He told a 12-man team of Germany's major human rights groups yesterday in Abuja that approval had since been given for the commencement of the programme but the dearth of teachers was stalling its take-off.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alhaji Sule Lamido, yesterday predicted the collapse of the international economic system unless urgent action was taken to address the problems of under-development of Africa.

"There can be no successful co-operation between poverty and wealth, and that, unfortunately, is the reality of European Union / African relations," he told visiting German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fishcher.

Meanwhile, the German parliament, the Bundestag, yesterday pledged to help the House of Representatives facilitate its legislative duties.

Claudia Roth, leader of an eight-man delegation, said their visit was a way of expressing her country's desire that Nigeria needs to be strengthened through dialogue between both countries.

Deputy Speaker Chibudom nwuche requested assistance that could help Nigeria's democracy and also reminded them that Nigeria was under a DM7 billion debt owed the Germany.

Vanguard Transmitted Wednesday, 29   March, 2000

6 shot dead in fresh robberies

By Emma Nnadozie, Benedeth Orakwue & Adaobi Okafor

IN what appears to be a renewed onslaught on residents of Lagos, armed robbers in the metropolis have shot dead six persons including a police inspector and a beggar in the last 72 hours.

They also attacked the Satellite Police Post where they looted some rifles.

The police inspector was killed at the Alakija bus stop on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway yesterday in a five-hour shootout between armed robbers and policemen.

The gunmen reportedly went away with the inspector’s rifle.

The deceased and other policemen were on patrol when the incident occurred.

A report said the inspector was shot on the head by one of the gunmen who had parked their vehicle a few metres away from where the policemen were standing.

As the inspector dropped dead, his attackers seized his rifle.

Also shot were four traders who were travelling in a luxurious bus to the East.

Robbers were said to have opened fire on their bus near the Lagos Trade Fair Complex on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.

A passenger in the luxurious bus who gave his name as Paul said the vehicle had run into an ambush laid by about 12 armed robbers, who shot indiscriminately into the bus.

The passenger said in addition to those killed, one of the armed escorts in the bus was injured and his rifle taken away after which the robbers came into the bus and dispossessed the travellers of their valuables including money, jewelleries and electronic gadgets.

Vanguard learnt that the robbers later proceeded to the nearby Monkey village, where they broke into houses and robbed many residents of the area. Four persons including two security guards were wounded seriously by the robbers.

A team of policemen from the new crime outfit, Dragon, Rapid Response Squad (RRS), and detectives from Festac and Apapa Area Commands promptly moved into action and intercepted the rampaging robbers.

Sources said that as the policemen were trying to overpower the robbers, they allegedly ran into a nearby military barracks, provoking a fresh shootout.

The situation led to a pandemonium as some residents of Kirikiri town, Monkey village and satellite town took to their heels with a rumour that armed men had invaded Kirikiri Maximum Prisons to release some suspects.

Six persons were later arrested with a pump action rifle number 2326 and 43 live cartridges at Monkey village by the police.

The suspects reportedly claimed that they were taking victims of the robbery incident to a nearby hospital. They (suspects) were, however, taken to Apapa Area B Command from where some of them were bailed after investigations.

The owner of the pump action rifle is said to be under investigation as he could not satisfy the police about its ownership.

Lagos State Police boss, Mr. Mike Okiro, who confirmed the incident said: "There is no iota of truth that it had to do with attempts to release some suspects at Kirikiri. The shootout was between some robbery suspects and the police. It had no link whatsoever with Kirikiri Maximum Prison."

In another incident, a middle-aged beggar was yesterday shot dead by armed robbers who were escaping after robbing a man inside the Broad Street, Lagos branch of a first generation bank.

Eyewitness account said the robbers trailed the man from a distance and as soon as he stepped into the bank, they snatched his bag containing an unspecified large sum of money.

Vanguard gathered that when the robbers rushed out of the bank, they started shooting indiscriminately causing passersby to run for safety. It was during the commotion that the robbers’ bullet hit the beggar on the forehead and he died instantly. The armed robbers reportedly escaped with a 504 Peugeot saloon car before a team of policemen arrived the scene and which later gave them a chase.

Vanguard Transmitted Wednesday, 29   March, 2000 

Wednesday, March 29 , 2000

Libya, Iran positions stall OPEC deal

DISCUSSIONS on oil production agreement by OPEC ministers continued to rage yesterday as Libya insisted that the oil cartel's output should not be raised more than 1.2 million barrels per day, half a million barrels short of the increase urged by other members.

As talks resumed, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, warned that there might not be a consensus. He, however, added: "We are doing our best to reach an agreement."

Iran had held out during talks on Monday for only a small rise in oil production while other members led by Saudi Arabia, the largest OPEC producer, demanded a more substantial increase. This development led to the collapse of the talks.

Algeria's minister of energy and mines declared that his country backed a 1.7 million-barrel increase, as do several other OPEC ministers, saying only Libya was arguing for a smaller increase. Nevertheless, the ministers are likely to agree on a hike in output close to 1.7 million barrel per day as they were expected to reconvene yesterday night.

Any agreement, if approved, would take effect in April and would probably be reviewed in June.

"The impression is that a compromise will eventually be reached, and OPEC compromises tend to favour the Saudis," commented Peter Gignoux, manager of the petroleum desk at Salomon Smith Barney in London.

Supply curbs that OPEC members implemented over the past year have almost tripled the price of crude in that time. Higher prices have stirred up political pressure from the United States to urge OPEC to cut prices to stamp out inflationary pressures in the galloping United States economy. Oil prices rose to nearly $32 a barrel earlier this month, sending the price of gasoline above $2 a gallon at pumps in many parts of the United States.

OPEC last year agreed to restrict output to just 23 million barrels a day until the end of this month. They are now anxious to avoid expanding production so far that prices head back down towards the $10-a-barrel level of January 1999. Kheli said Algeria would like to see oil prices at about $25 a barrel.

Prices have remained high even as some OPEC countries exceeded their quotas, with the result that OPEC's output is some one million barrels a day higher than its official production ceiling. The Libyan proposal to raise that ceiling would be a rubber-stamp for the existing level of real output, meaning production would effectively freeze at the current level if OPEC members don't then exceed the new quotas.

An increase of 1.7 million barrels is not expected to relieve near record-high energy prices. The independent International Energy Agency in Paris claims that a rise of 500,000 to one million barrels a day is needed just to balance supply and demand, while a hike of 2.3 million barrels would help to replenish reserves.

Salomon Gignoux maintained that a 1.7 million-barrel increase was "pretty well factored in" to the price of crude.

Saudi Arabia and fellow Persian Gulf producers are pressing other OPEC members to agree to raise the production ceiling by 1.7 million barrels a day. In the United States, OPEC's biggest customer, the energy agency wants an increase in oil production of about 2.3 million barrels a day, some 600,000 barrels more than the members of OPEC are willing to consider. OPEC output accounts for about 40 per cent of worldwide supply.

Libya and Iran favour maintaining current production levels. Russia, which is not an OPEC member, also supports a freeze.

Brent crude oil for May delivery slipped 7 cents to $25.61 in London by mid-morning.

OPEC is an organisation of oil producing and exporting countries. Its members are: Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Wednesday, March 29 , 2000

ECOWAS scraps checkpoints, residency permits

From Emeka Nwankpa and Arthur Obayuwana (Abuja)

COUNTRIES on the west coast of Africa seem poised for closer co-operation as a summit of the leaders ended yesterday with far-reaching decisions. For instance, all checkpoints on international highways within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are to be dismantled henceforth. The mandatory residency permits are also to be abolished.

These formed part of agreements reached at the end of a one-day mini-summit of Heads of State and Government on the proposed creation of a borderless ECOWAS territory.

The leaders in a statement yesterday at the end of the summit in Abuja, listed other measures adopted to facilitate closer cooperation among the countries.

They include the elimination of rigid border formalities and modernisation of border procedures through the use of passport-scanning machines. Immigration officials are also to accord the maximum 90-day period of stay to ECOWAS citizens at entry points by April 15, 2000.

Personnel at border posts is to be limited to essential workers such as Customs and Immigration, while members will ratify the extradition convention signed in Abuja on August 6, 1994.

There will also be joint border patrols by neighbouring states by Niger, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali to monitor and police national borders in addition to closer collaboration between the police and internal security agencies with regard to exchange of information, staff exchange programmes, and organisation of frequent meetings and training courses.

Effective use of the ECOWAS travel certificate, introduction of a multi-country, Shengen-type visa and adoption of a single ECOWAS passport are to be pursued.

On regional infrastructural development, a rail link from Lagos through Cotonou to Lome and Accra has been proposed, while another to link Lagos, Niamey and Ouagadougou is being considered.

The heads of states agreed to harmonise and update their shipping laws to promote liberalisation of maritime services in the sub-region.

On energy, the summit adopted an accelerated approach towards implementation of the 330kv interconnection among Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. The interconnection of all other member countries would also receive priority attention.

To facilitate the effective establishment of a free trade zone it was agreed that a list of industrial products is to be published and made available at all Customs entry points while directives are to be given by the ministries of finance to Customs Services to apply the zero per cent rate of duty on approved industrial products as well as goods and traditional handicrafts.

Ministries of finance are also to issue directives by April 15 to the Customs Services to apply the 0.5 per cent and to remit the proceeds to the ECOWAS secretariat account with the Central Banks.

The summit was attended by President Olusegun Obasanjo, President Alpha Konare of Mali, President Mamadou Tandja of Niger Republic and President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo. Mr. V. Atta Mills, Ghana's Vice President and Mr. Kadre Ouedraogo, Prime Minister of Burkina Faso were also at the summit.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Monday March 27, 2000

AIDS: Abalaka gets patent on vaccine

By Sam Eferaro, Health Editor

FEDERAL Ministry of Commerce has granted patent right to Dr. Jeremiah Abalaka, the surgeon who claims to have developed both preventive and curative vaccines for the AIDS virus.

Dr. Abalaka told Vanguard that the patent right now allows him to mass-produce and market the vaccine in Nigeria.

He, however, explained that the patent covers the Nigerian market only as he would still need a separate licence to produce and market the vaccine in other countries.

He is thus the first inventor to obtain licence for a curative drug for the disease, said to have infected about 2.6 million Nigerians.

Already, many Nigerians are trooping to his Medicrest Specialist Hospital, Gwagwalada in search of the vaccine.

According to Dr. Abalaka, at least 16 out of over 500 patients currently taking the treatment have had their zero-positive status reverted to zero-negative while others have had their viral load reduced significantly almost to a non-detection level.

"Remember that in well established HIV infection, the antibody levels are very high, and we know that it takes at least nine to 15 months on the average for the body to clear such quantities of antibodies if the stimulus for the production of such antibodies is removed," Dr. Abalaka said.

At the moment, the vaccine is being produced only for patients receiving treatment at Medicrest Specialist Hospital, but Dr. Abalaka said it was possible to mass-produce the vaccines "as soon as the demand arises and I get necessary equipment.

"As soon as everyone, after constructive criticisms, accepts the reality of the fact that we have indeed developed efficacious and safe vaccines against the HIV, the next issue would then follow—making them available for those who need them at affordable prices." he further told Vanguard.

The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development recently, in a letter to Dr. Abalaka, revealed that the vaccine had reduced significantly the viral load in two patients with HIV being monitored by the institute.

Vanguard Transmitted MONDAY, 27 March, 2000 

Monday, March 27 , 2000

Ife, Modakeke leaders laud govt's peace moves

From Seun Adeoye Osogbo

LEADERS of war-ravaged Ife and Modakeke communities have expressed confidence in President Olusegun Obasanjo's mediation in the crisis, saying an end to the age-long disagreement may be in sight.

The Asiwaju of Ife, Chief Orayemi Orafidiya, while berating past government's for their in ability to end the crisis, said Obasanjo's peace efforts were likely to achieve the desired peace.

According to him: "Now we have a president who has the courage to speak the truth and we have a governor who can also speak the truth no matter who is offended. No government either military or civilian has ever done it this way.

"I think we are-on the way to it (peace). We don't want to fight anybody. We don't hate the people of Modakeke. We love them. What we want is for justice to be done".

He pointed out that the 27-member peace committee inaugurated by Obasanjo "will have the opportunity to look at all cases. In the past, there was nothing like that. We will accept any outcome of the committee verdict.

Ogunsua of Modakeke was also full of praises on President Obasanjo's peace initiative, saying he believed that peace would eventually return to the two communities.

"Peace is gradually even returning. We thank the president and we are looking forward to what the outcome of the committee will be. Modakekes are not trouble makers. We are peace-loving people and we want justice as well," he stated.

The peace committee set up by President Obasanjo had Bishop Lere Abegunrin of Osogbo Catholic Diocese as chairman, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, former Minister of External Affairs, as a member.

Former Governor of Kwara State, Chief Cornelius Adebayo who was at the closed-door meeting held with President Obasanjo and Osun State Council of Obas, Yoruba leaders, Federal and state representatives, said he was sure that "peace will finally return".

Although there were reports of few skirmishes in Odo-Okun and Egbedore areas yesterday morning, no casualty was recorded.

Orafidiya, who along with Bada of Modakeke, Chief Olaniyan Alawode were mandated to liaise with security agencies, said he had already reported the incident to the police.

He blamed Modakeke indigenes for the early morning shootings on the pretext of pursuing thieves, but the Ogunsua claimed that those who broke into his domain were actually thieves who came stealing domestic animals and other abandoned property.

Orafidiya, who is Ife's spokesman, berated past governments both at the federal and state levels for the way they handled the crisis, saying some of them aggravated the problem by taking sides.

On former military administrator of Osun State, Col. Theophilus Bamigboye's efforts to bring peace in the area, Orafidiya noted that he failed because he refused to "call two of us together, look at our cases and give a verdict. That is (based on) justice.

"He just called people to the church, they prayed even though I was not there and said it was all over without hearing from us or taking any evidence from both sides", he said.

Although Bamigboye's peace efforts lasted about 14 months, the Asiwaju reasoned that "if two school children are fighting, you don't just separate them and go, if you do that, they will fight again. What you do is to call them and ask from them what caused their fighting, then you can settle them easily".

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Monday, March 27 , 2000

Obasanjo urges growth of G-77 nations

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has urged the Group of 77 to devise a new programme of action that would facilitate rapid socio-economic development of member-nations.

Receiving the Cuban Foreign Minister, Felipe Perez who briefed him on arrangements for the G-77 Summit in Havana next month, Obasanjo said the group's leaders must also use the meeting to assess the impact of current trends, such as globalisation on the developing and under-developed nations.

The G-77 is chaired by Nigeria and the President assured Perez that the government would do its best to ensure that the Havana Summit succeeded in setting a result-oriented new millennium agenda for member-nations.

A statement by O.J. Abuah for the Special Assistant to President (Media and Publicity) welcomed the mutual resolve to resuscitate all cooperation agreements between Abuja and Havana, saying that both countries should work towards the revitalisation of the Nigeria-Cuba Joint Commission as soon as possible.

Obasanjo also received a team from the Nippon Foundation of Japan led by Mr. Yohei Sasakawa. He thanked the foundation for the programme it has been excuted in some states to help peasant farmers improve their output and living standards.

He said the government would encourage farmers in other states to adopt the programme's methods and input which have resulted in phenomenal increases in maize and wheat production in Kano and Kaduna. He noted that if the wonderful results achieved by the programme in these states could be replicated in others, Nigerian farmer's lot would greatly improve.

The president lauded the Foundation's contributions to the World Health Organisation's efforts to achieve the global eradication of leprosy by the year 2005, adding that his administration would work towards the quick eradication of the disease in Nigeria.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Monday, March 27 , 2000

Govt to evacuate the destitute from Abuja

STREETS of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are soon to be rid of the destitute, a Director of FCT, Mrs. Maimuna Nasir Ajanah, said at the weekend.

She spoke just as the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) chairperson, Mrs. Esther John Audu blamed the menace of beggars in the territory on the attitude of Nigerians to the issue.

According to Ajanah, evacuation of the destitute had already commenced, adding that other strategies embarked upon include the availability of vocational rehabilitation centres, which she said was aimed at offering skill acquisition in tailoring, electronic repairs, industrial kitting and shoe making.

Besides, the centres located at Karu, Idu and Garki, she added that grants are to be made available to persons with disability (PWDs) to set up small scale businesses.

To satisfy persons wishing to patronise the beggars, an alms-designated centre has been established, adding it will help in sustaining the rehabilitation centres.

But Audu said the efforts must be complemented by Nigerians, stressing that the menace could be checked if the method of alms-giving is modified.

Expressing support for the planned alms centre, she disclosed that her council had mapped out strategies to check the menace.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Monday, March 27 , 2000

Police report 37 missing in Lagos By Sylvester Ebhodaghe

NO fewer than 37 persons are missing in Lagos between January 20 and March 22, the state Police Command said at the weekend.

According to the command, the missing persons, who were mostly teenage females, were believed to have left their homes without notice and had since made no contact with their relatives.

In the latest record of persons who disappeared without trace is one Miss Chioma, 11, of 12, Ipaye Close, Surulere, Lagos and a student of Ifaye Primary School, Surulere was said to have left home since February 16.

Mrs. Yemisi Onasoga (nee Adeyemi Quadri), 30, a fashion designer, was also said to have left her home in Adatan, Abeokuta, Ogun State for Iperu on Saturday February 5.

And Mr Gabriel Udoji Okeke, 30, of 679, Agege Motor Road is yet another case. Mr Edwin Nwabunwanne, a relative of Okeke, said he left home for his business office on February 14, but never returned.

He said all efforts to trace his whereabouts, including checks at mortuaries and police cells, were unsuccessful, adding that the family suspected he might have been kidnapped.

Although teenage girls are generally assumed to have elapsed with lovers, there are several cases of males who are yet to be located after being declared missing, the report stated.

Members of the public who have information on the whereabouts of such persons were urged to call 997; 774 5705; 774 5706; 493 1260 or 497 8899, which are recognised police emergency numbers.

Spokesman of the command, Mr Nemi O.E Iwo, Deputy Superintendent (DSP) while urging the public to be security conscious, also lamented that persons who had been declared missing were never reported to police after they were found.

He, therefore, urged families of victims to report to the police when missing relatives are found.

He disclosed that recovered vehicles were parked at various police divisions throughout the Lagos metropolis.

Any person whose vehicle was either missing or towed from a motor park should check at the Police Public Relations Office for detailed information.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Monday, March 27 , 2000

Stella Obasanjo seeks support for women education

From Abiodun Fagbemi, Ilorin

WIFE of the President, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, has described the education of women as a catalyst of Nigeria's socio-economic and political growth.

Mrs. Obasanjo, at the weekend in Offa, Kwara State during the opening of multi-million naira project of Oyeleke Memorial College underlined the priority of female education in the programme of the present dispensation and reiterated her commitment to enhancing the status of women through education.

She said: "May I use this forum to call on well-meaning Nigerians and corporate organizations to contribute their quota to the education of our children, especially the female child. The Federal Government's commitment to basic education is already common knowledge.

"However, government alone can not shoulder the enormous responsibility. On my part, I have committed myself in my private capacity to the education of the Nigerian children, especially the disabled ones. This is the springboard for the future of our young children," she said.

In her entourage were the wives of the Speaker of House of Representatives, Edo, Osun, Ondo states' governors, as well as those of the Aviation and Police Affairs ministers.

Admonishing the people of Offa to support the school project established by Mrs. Ayodele Oyeleke, Mrs. Obasanjo said such would encourage others to be involved in enhancing the well-being of others.

At the palace of Olofa of Offa, Oba Mustapha Olawore Olanipekun, she expressed her appreciation to the monarch as well as other traditional rulers for mobilising their subjects to support the Obasanjo administration.

Speaking on the occasion, the Commissioner for Education, Mr. Kayode Eleshinnla, expressed the readiness of the government to ensure the success of the school.

The first sod of the soil of the college was turned on Thursday March 4, last year while the college opened its doors to the first set of students in October of that year.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Monday, March 27 , 2000

No room for adventurous soldiers, says cleric

From Mohammed Abubakar, Maiduguri

POLITICALLY-ambitious soldiers who might want to capitalise on the recent Sharia-related violence in the country to launch a comeback should look elsewhere as there is no room for them in the new dispensation, the Bishop of Maiduguri diocese of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Right-Reverend Emmanuel Kana Mani, has said.

The clergyman, who spoke to reporters shortly after the induction ceremony of Venerable Gatibo Magaji as the Canon Residentiary of the diocese, said the military should conduct themselves in a neutral and dignified manner.

He said: "We are happy that the situation is under control here, and it is not the time to do anything funny.

"The military should just wait until they are given orders to quell riots or handle any situation.

"Military intervention will never solve our problems, so we should run away from it."

The clergyman, who himself is a retired soldier and the immediate past chairman of the Borno State branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) warned: "Those who are nursing the idea of military intervention should forget it because it can not help us either in Nigeria or Africa."

He, however, cautioned that democracy should not be equated with lawlessness and disorder.

He said: "I have always believed that we should not take the opportunity of democracy to behave as if there is no law. We should not live in a state of anarchy devoid of law and order. This is what attracts the military."

He observed that President Olusegun Obasanjo's cautious approach to the handling of the recent crisis in Kaduna and other parts of the country may have been dictated by the recent experiences of similar events in other parts of the country where he was accused of precipitate intervention, but added that with the advance approval given by the National Assembly, all would have been well.

He criticised some past leaders whose comments were inimical to the peace and unity of the country, saying every sensible Nigerian should at this time work towards dousing tension instead of fuelling it.

He specifically criticised former President Shehu Shagari and Major-General Mohammadu Buhari (rtd) about certain remarks credited to them on the Sharia issue, saying they, as past leaders, ought to have weighed their utterances "because any statement from them is capable of inciting the people."

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Monday, March 27 , 2000

Seven years after, Shell returns to Ogoni

By Joseph Ollor Obari (Port Harcourt) and Ibiba Don Pedro (Lagos)

AFTER seven years of forced exit, the doors of Ogoniland were at the weekend flung open to Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) by the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP).

But it is not yet total welcome for Shell as another organisation, Conference of Ogoni Traditional Rulers (COTRA) says the decision does not have its blessing.

The local bickering may have resulted in no fewer than 12 people being injured following protests by some indigenes who seem not yet won over. The fracas forced the company's General Manager (Production) Samuel Inyang to order a stay of action on its projects in the area.

Nevertheless, MOSOP's change of heart is a landmark in Ogoni-Shell relations.

Principally, MOSOP is allowing Shell to execute four projects in the area, but some youths opposed to the projects chased out the contractors working on the sites.

The olive branch may bring to a close, a long chain of events marked with bloodletting in which prominent indigenes of the community, including renowned playwright Ken Saro Wiwa, have died.

MOSOP President Ledum Mitee who read a statement to the press, after a meeting of the organisation with representatives of the state government and the oil firm in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, said the decision was to bring succour to the beleaguered community.

Mitee said: "Ogoni leaders (including) elected representatives, commissioners, MOSOP leaders and other opinion leaders have met to look at the tension that has been generated in our land for the past days occasioned by some projects (being) done by Shell.

"The most important decision we have reached is that we have agreed to be together and work in unison, basically to shame whatever forces that would have felt that we are not together. All of us are united in the resolution that Ogoni development is the focus of every person's interest."

He said other agreements included:


bulletsetting up of a monitoring committee to ensure that the projects were completed according to the highest standard;
bulletuse of qualified persons from the area by the contractors; and
bulletproduction of a blueprint that would serve as guideline for any future development projects in the area.

A member of the House of Representatives, Bernard Mikko (Khana/Gokana Federal Constituency), said the resolution was an endorsement by all elected officials from the area in government, while Magnus Ngei Abe, minority leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly said that the foundation had now been laid for the emergence of a new Ogoni.

He said: "I believe that today marks a turning point in the new Ogoni that is emerging. In the next 10 years you will see a miracle in Ogoniland."

Chief Press Secretary to the governor Augustine Nwikinaka said that his boss, Dr Peter Odili, personally waded into the disagreement that arose over the projects.

He said it was agreed that SPDC should secure all unsafe oil wells and weak pipelines in the area, besides involving the people in project implementation.

Deputy Managing Director of SPDC Egbert Imomoh and Inyang were at the meeting.

"Addressing one of the meetings, Odili restated that peace in Ogoniland and other parts of the state was paramount noting that the people could enjoy the welfare programmes of his administration only if peace reigned in the area."

He pointed out that "many ugly incidents had taken place in Ogoniland in the recent past which denied the people of their bonafide benefits from the state and urged them to support his administration to pave the way for reconstruction and restoration."

COTRA's treasurer, Chief Simeon Monokpo, however, alleged that the MOSOP leadership was not involved in the meetings where the decisions were taken.

A statement by him on Saturday read: "We are seizing this opportunity to warn Ogoni elected representatives to refrain from making inflammatory and false statements capable of causing unrest in the area.

"COTRA is aware that MOSOP under the leadership of Mr Ledum Mitee was not consulted (nor) involved in the purported announcement, negotiations or contracts alleged to have been awarded by Shell and advises the government and Shell that Ogoni people will resist this attempt by groups who are not interested in our moving forward to derail our cause."

The return of the multi-national oil company, even for the execution of development projects, marks a major shift in the company's decade-long frosty relations with the community.

Shell had been forced to suspend operations in 1993 following serious deterioration in relations between it and the people, who under the socio-cultural organisation forum of MOSOP had in the 1990s begun a campaign against environmental degradation resulting from over four decades of oil exploration and exploitation activities by the oil company.

MOSOP under the leadership of its elite such as the late Saro-Wiwa had also mounted a high local and international campaign for an end to the practice where the majority of the Ogoni people lived in abject poverty and lacked basic amenities despite the enormous wealth generated from their soil.

The campaign took a dramatic turn with the presentation of the Ogoni Bill of Rights, a document of demands for the development of the area to the military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in 1991.

Shell was declared persona non grata in Ogoniland following several clashes in the area, prompting the company to leave and vowing not to return to operate under armed escort.

The Ogoni saga took a tragic turn in May 1994, when four Ogoni prominent personalities were killed at a meeting in Giokoo, Gokana local government area.

The killing of the men, Chief Edward Kobani, Mr Albert Badey, Chief Samuel Orage and Chief Theophilus Orage led to the detention, trial and subsequent hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis.

A military occupation of Ogoniland as a crackdown on the activists resulted in the death of several Ogoni indigenes.

Following their travails, the Ogoni resolved not to allow Shell return to their land "without a renegotiation of the terms of their return.

During a meeting between MOSOP officials and Shell in August 1999, MOSOP declared among other points that "Shell would continue to remain unwelcomed to the area until the people's demands particularly the implementation of recommendations by independent foreign groups including the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights for an environmental audit in the area and all of the Niger Delta were met. It added also "that the development projects so far proposed by Shell be seen as were public relations which do not meet the actual needs of the people."

The issue of Shell's return to Ogoniland has been the source of much rancour between various groups with a section including those in government and contractors in the area calling for its return and others insisting that the Ogonis had paid too great a price for their opposition to Shell for the company to simply walk back to Ogoniland.

Patrick Naagbaton, a MOSOP activist, had told The Guardian in Port Harcourt recently that: "Those who want Shell to return so that they may continue their practice of making money from Shell at the expense of the Ogoni people are simply not serious."

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper